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Djabe — Djabe
(Gramy Records GR 004, 1996, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1999-04-01

Djabe Cover art

One thing I enjoy about the current swell of musical activity in Hungary is the way it proves just how deep the well of quality really is. No single person could ever know all that there is to know about a certain genre. Djabe is just one such example of what I mean. And who knows how many others are floundering in obscurity waiting for someone to pick up on them? This eclectic improvising septet resembles Szamaba (see last issue) in how they come at the jazz target from a skewed angle; hearing how they dance around the bulls-eye without ever fully getting into a typical jazzy swing or groove is most curious indeed. Of the 17 short pieces on offer here, just one fits the standard be-bop song structure. But as the CD advances along, the terrain becomes more and more diverse, taking in references to African music ("Ocean"); Brazilian ("Sorcerer"); pre-Columbian Mexico ("Hagar Aim"); and beyond. "Passage," for example, features little more than acoustic guitar and Javanese angklung percussion. As with AT Ensemble, no performer on drum set appears. The material however is much looser and free-flowing than AT, but never completely free-form. A strict structure is always prevalent to anchor the experimental pizazz they emblazon their work with. If in the future Djabe can just hit on a signature style, watch out! Recommended then, especially for the playing dexterity, but be prepared for some style jumping.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 17, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Djabe

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